Sunday, February 14, 2010

Aphrodite goddess of love, beauty, romance and other stuff.

Born when Cronus cut off Ouranos' genitals and threw them into the sea. At Paphos, Cyprus, she arose from seafoam, floating on a scallop shell. Aphrodite had no childhood: in every image and each reference she is born adult, nubile, and infinitely desirable. She is often portrayed as vain, grumpy and unfaithful.

Because she rose from the sea, Poseidon attempted to claim her for his own. Unfortunately other gods had the same idea and attempted to marry her. It seemed like a big fight was brewing on Mt. Olympus. To head off this possibility, Zeus decided she must be married at once ("taken off the market", so to speak) and awarded the goddess to his son, Hephaestus, god of the forge.
Aphrodite was associated with, and often depicted with, the sea, dolphins, doves, swans, pomegranates, apples, myrtle, rose trees, lime trees, clams, scallop shells, and pearls. In many pictures she is seen riding her scallop, most famously The Birth of Venus (alternately known as Venus Anadyomene, "Anadyomene" meaning "rising from the sea") by Sandro Botticelli, 1485.

The Ancient Greeks and Romans often equated their deities with foreign ones. Aphrodite was equated by the Greeks to Egyptian Hathor, Assyrian Mylitta, Canaanite/Phoenician Astarte, Arabian Alilat, and Roman Venus.

As Venus (Roman version) she was a very popular goddess. Julius Caesar claimed to be her descendant through his ancestor Aeneas. In gratitude for his military successes in the Civil War he dedicated a temple to Venus Genetrix in 46 BC and lavished on it rich spoils.

Supposedly in classical antiquity, the sea shell was a metaphor for a woman's vulva. Appropriate since Aphrodite is the goddess of love and sex, as well as desire, beauty, fertility, the sea, and vegetation.

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